The world’s creepiest adult coloring book is getting a sequel.
Released by IDW Publishing last year, Alan Robert‘s adult coloring book “The Beauty of Horror” quickly shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list and caught the attention of many mainstream outlets. Now, with “The Beauty of Horror 2: Ghouliana’s Creepatorium, Another GOREgeous Coloring Book” arriving September 12th (pre-order it here), we caught up with him to talk about the book that features over 80 pages of original artwork depicting a variety of increasingly terrifying scenes and patterns.
Inside the pages of the follow-up book, undead girl Ghouliana mischievously attempts to trick budding colorists into unleashing a deadly spell. You’ll have to try and find the ingredients she’s sprinkled throughout Robert’s intricate pen and ink illustrations before it’s too late.
“Last year, right around April Fool’s Day, my wife and daughter were coloring in one of Johanna Basford’s books and asked me to join in,” Robert says leaning into his initial inspiration behind the book. “I had never seen an adult coloring book before and I was seriously impressed with how high-end the book was put together. The illustrations were intricate and beautifully drawn and the paper stock was fantastic. A lot different than coloring books I grew up with!
“The content itself was not really up my alley… lots of whimsical nature scenes and whatnot. But, I could definitely see why the adult coloring book thing got so huge.
“My wife said something like ‘you should really make one of these books,’ and that’s when my wheels started turning.
“Now, while I liked the idea of drawing my own adult coloring book, I didn’t want to draw something nature-based. I immediately wanted to draw the most disgusting thing I could think of. The first drawing ended up to be a detailed black and white version of CBGB’s bathroom (laughs). I actually posted it as a free download page on Facebook and hundreds of fans grabbed it overnight. They started coloring it in and posting their creations. It was so cool and inspiring to see so many different creative styles coloring in the same page. I really dug the interactivity of the whole thing.
“So after that, I pitched my adult coloring book idea to IDW. I decided that I wanted to create the ultimate horror coloring book, specifically made for colorists, because none had really existed before. Sure there were other coloring books with zombies, skulls, and stuff, but they were mostly books made up of pre-existing black and white comic art. And they were not high-end books. What I wanted to do was to achieve the same level of craftsmanship as the beautiful Johanna Basford books, but have the subject matter completely macabre, based on everything that had to do with the visuals of the horror genre. IDW said yes in about 10 minutes flat. It was the quickest green light I ever got from them! I had to ask them twice if they were joking because after all, I did pitch it to them on April Fool’s Day.”
Talking more about his inspiration: “I do my very best to include everything a horror fan would want to color. I made a checklist of topics and would generally draw a page each day. 88 pages per book to be exact! The first book has everything from vampires, werewolves, and zombies to killer clowns, undead pets, and haunted burial grounds. The second book may be even more unsettling! It has been called ‘The World’s Creepiest Adult Coloring Book’.”
Now that he’s covered all of the sub genre bases, Robert does think he could spin the first two books off into something fresh:
“I definitely have plans to tell stories using characters from ‘The Beauty of Horror’ series,” he revealed. “Not just in comics, but in other mediums, too. About halfway through the making of ‘The Beauty of Horror Vol. 1’, I came up with the Ghouliana character, and she really became the face of the series after that. Once I established her, I began expanding her world a bit, giving her creepy relatives, skeleton pets, and her own hidden room inside the haunted mansion. Volume 2 explores Ghouliana’s Creepatorium, which is her own private collection of oddities and bizarre creatures. It’s a lot of fun to draw.”
If you’re picking up a book yourself, Robert has a crayon suggestion: “You’re gonna need a shitload of red, buddy. (Laughs)”
Robert continues, speaking to his favorite books:
“I’ve always been really into psychological horror like ‘The Shining’, so I am very conscious to include visuals that have that little extra hidden detail you might not notice until after a few viewings. In both books, there are search and find games, where you literally have to comb each illustration to spot all of Ghouliana’s lost items.”
Fans of Robert know he’s also a talented bassist, part of Life of Agony. But before that, he was a serious art student:
“Long before I was making records and touring with Life of Agony, I was a serious art student at The School of Visual Arts in NYC, studying to be a professional cartoonist,” Robert reveals. “I attended on scholarship and had legendary ‘Thor’ artist, Walter Simonson, as my professor. LOA started while I was in college and we recorded our debut River Runs Red during my senior year. Upon graduation, I had to make a choice whether to pursue music or art. Well, the music thing was happening and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity to tour the world. I chose that journey, which lasted over two decades… and still going strong.
“My dreams of being a comic artist never died, though,” he continues. “If anything, it made me more hungry to achieve those goals. By 2010, I was absolutely determined to write, draw and publish the comic series I conceived of back in art school. It was a horror/conspiracy book called ‘Wire Hangers’. IDW offered to put it out and we continue to work together on a bunch of my creator-owned titles, including ‘Crawl to Me’ and ‘Killogy’. ‘The Beauty of Horror’ books have been the biggest hit of the bunch. The first coloring book turned out to be IDW’s #2 top seller of 2016.”
Outside of music and art, he has feature films in the works:
“Horror is in my DNA. I have a lot of ideas for more books in the works… but I am also adapting my titles into other mediums. For instance, ‘Crawl to Me’ is still being developed into a feature film. We’re at a very exciting stage with it, too. We’ll have some very cool announcements coming by the end of the year about that. Stay tuned.”
In regards to Life of Agony, it was a long wait for this year’s new album, A Place Where There’s No More Pain. He teases more plans for 2018.
“Twelve years is longer than most bands even stay together!” he exclaimed. “Seriously, though. We’re super proud of A Place Where There’s No More Pain and it just came out in April, so we are out on the road through the end of the year supporting it. More plans brewing for 2018.”
The first music video was inspired by Hellraiser; there could me more on the way:
“‘World Gone Mad’ is one of my favorite Life of Agony videos specifically because it’s so dark. We have a song on the new record that we’ve been playing live every night called ‘Dead Speak Kindly’. I would love to do another horror-themed music video for that one. We are definitely considering it.”
With horror in his DNA, Robert tells us his favorite horror films, which include The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Psycho, Texas Chainsaw 2, Evil Dead 2, Day of the Dead, The Exorcist, Jaws, and of course Hellraiser.